Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

Thoughts and deeds

Twitter is a force to be reckoned with

with 2 comments

Time to update my Twitter workshop handout.

The Guardian was gagged by an injunction and could not report on the response to a Parliamentary question about Trafigura, a company connected with dumping toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 (08:52 or thereabouts) and The Guardian report that Twitter can’t be gagged. As Today’s commentator Joshuah Rozenberg observed, the legalities of injunctions were drawn up for a world without a read-write web. More from the BBC.  And from the aforementioned Guardian piece:

“While the Guardian was prevented from reporting the question – from MP Paul Farrelly to a minister – until law firm Carter-Ruck withdrew its opposition at lunchtime today, Twitter wasn’t: instead of suppressing the story the attempt backfired. Factor in the Streisand effect, and starting here the topic spread across the internet and became the top trending topic on Twitter. The Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, tweeted the gagging order with the question “Did John Wilkes live in vain?”. The gagging order was lifted after Carter-Ruck dropped its claim.

But Twitter had already alarmed a variety of platforms, and the question about Trafigura got picked up by a number of prominent blogs, including Guido Fawkes, Richard Wilson’s Don’t Get Fooled Again, and Adam Tinworth’s One Man and His Blog. Finally, mainstream media caught up, with The Spectator pushing the story.

It might be a bit too exaggerated to call it a historic moment, but surely the real-time web passed its test today.”

Simple conclusion (addressing opinions still held about the worthlessness of Twitter): Twitter is not trivial. Sometimes it hosts trivialities, sometimes it is politically important.

What about educationally important? I’m not sure (although see the handout above for some ideas) but shouldn’t we give it some consideration?

Update: something a little more concrete – Professor of e-learning Gráinne Conole‘s discussion (Oct 09) about using Twitter with students; from it, Dr Alan Cann on Twitterfolios – an excerpt from that:

“Martin Weller commented:
I know, having tried to force-feed reflective practice, and having had it force-fed, that it doesn’t really map onto conventional teaching very well ‘Now reflect on your answer’. Students get fed up with this, and feel it is playing a game – they know if they say ‘I think I could have done better at this’, then they’ll get marks. Whereas if you said ‘I think I did everything right’ you won’t. It feels like a prisoner playing at contrition to get past the parole board…maybe just give students tools such as blogs, and get them to read people who are good, reflective bloggers, and they may pick it up in a more subtle form.
I’ve shied away from blogs and “learning logs” based on the negative reception they seem to generate, recorded in the work of Gráinne Conole and at the OU (don’t use the “B-word”: Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs & blogging can support distance learning in HE, ALT-C 2007, 169-178). Maybe I need to rethink this. Jim Groom supports the idea of the blogfolio (This ain’t yo mama’s e-portfolio part 1, part 2) and cites Barbara Ganley: “Twitter to connect, blog to reflect”.

In response to Martin, I commented:
A subgroup of this cohort are active Twitterers, and their tweets capture precisely this “stream of consciousness style of reflection”.
Hmm. Blogfolio? Maybe. Twitterfolio???

David Andrew commented:
I did find myself writing more reflective notes than I normally do – then I realised that they were in the form of the way I use Twitter – I think Twitter is maybe the best way of encouraging reflection.”

Written by Mira Vogel

October 14, 2009 at 12:35

Posted in social networking

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2 Responses

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  1. Simple conclusion, Mira, but one that is now incontrovertible. And I think, to answer your final question, the same holds up for education.

    One day we might also work out that lawyers don’t uphold the law – they abuse it.


    John Connell

    October 14, 2009 at 13:26

    • Hi John, point taken but I’d no more want to live in a world without lawyers than I’d want to live in a lawless world. Reprieve, the legal organisation for human rights, would be nowhere without international law and tenacious lawyers, for example. I think the balance of protection the law extends to the powerful on one hand and ordinary people on the other has evened up somewhat in recent years – in the EU, at least. This injunction was a squalid exception.

      On Twitter though – thanks for commenting John, reminded me to revisit your post on it, and the comments.

      Mira Vogel

      October 14, 2009 at 13:58

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